Liverpool are set to enter into a transfer battle with Borussia Dortmund in signing FC Basel defender Manuel Akanji.
The 22-year-old, who moved to the Basel from Winterthur in 2015, has established himself as a key figure in the Swiss champions' back four. He has started in all the six Champions League games, including the 1-0 win over Manchester United, which was crucial in their progression to the knockout stages.
According to the Independent, the Merseyside club and the Bundesliga outfit will compete with each other in securing Akanji's services. Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc has held talks with Basel representatives at least on three occasions.
The centre-back's impressive display in the last 12 months have convinced Dortmund and Liverpool to land him. The former is pushing for the deal to be completed in the January transfer window, while the Reds are willing to wait until the end of the season.
Basel face Manchester City in the knockout stages of the Champions League. They were keen on retaining Akanji beyond the mid-season transfer window, thus refusing to rule out a sale in January.
Liverpool's decision to wait until the next summer suits all the parties involved and Basel could be open to the idea of allowing him to make a switch to Anfield. The Reds are set to beat Dortmund in signing Akanji after the end of the season. His contract at St. Jakob-Park runs down in 2021.
Former Basel sporting director Georg Heitz remains confident that Akanji's potential is "limitless," if he remains fit. The Swiss international, who made his national team debut in June, revealed he dreams of joining Liverpool's arch-rivals United.
"Why would they? I don't feel any pressure at all. Things will happen the way they are meant to. I want to stay healthy, go with Switzerland to the World Cup, and someday play for Manchester United," Akanji told Credit Suisse.
When asked about his advice to younger players, he said, "Work hard every day, but never stop having fun playing the game. And, most importantly, have a life outside the playing field! You need to relax from time to time, get together with friends, pursue different hobbies, and clear your mind."